Branding is a tough topic and almost impossible to talk about without agreeing to the definitions at the start of the conversation. There are more words like this: innovation and communication are also almost impossible terms to work with as everyone has an own understanding of what that means or what it should look like.
On the one hand, branding is not important, at the same time it is also the most important thing in business and value creation. You can compare it to the automatic part of the nervous system, we don’t really need to pay much attention to it when we are healthy, it takes care of itself, but it is involved in everything. I would like to try to clarify things in a blog series about Branding in relation to more tangible efforts in business.
But first an attempt to set definitions:
A brand is not
A brand is not a logo, it is not a visual, not a corporate identity and it is not the collection of all images and visual expressions.
It’s not an ad, it’s not a commercial proposition,
It is not the company’s messaging, it is not the values, it is not the purpose (the why) of the company.
It is not the customer experience at any touchpoint with the company, not the web experience, it is not an event.
A brand is not the thought leadership that the company is known for.
It is not the name, or the labeling of the entire product portfolio.
The brand is not the behavior of employees, the attitude or commitment to diversity and privacy.
It is not defined by who are acquisition candidates and how post merger integration is carried out, it is not the power and speed with which companies can incorporate other companies after an acquisition.
It is not the vision of the CEO and not the culture of the company.
It’s all of the above and everything above affects a brand. So that is probably not the most helpful clarification.
What a brand is
There are many sensible definitions of “Brand” and one of my favorite is:
In this definition by Jeff Bezos, Brand equates to “reputation”, which is as much as the “perception of your identity”.
Then a brand is the recognized (artificial) identity of an organization, service or person. The organization, service or person is not the “owner” of the brand, the person (the audience) having the perception, owns it.
The organization, service or person can and will influence that perception purposefully and unconsciously through advertising, but also everyday behavior, through offerings, service and knowledge level. The perception is supported and made recognizable by a logo, colors and images that evoke desired emotions.
Branding affects the entire business; it influences the behavior and values of employees. It largely determines the culture and the culture of the company also influences the brand / perception. It affects the values and vice versa. The brand determines what the positioning is and the positioning loads the brand and the names of divisions, business units and products.
“If you take good care of the little things, Big things will take care of themselves.”
So if you run the separate parts such as acquisition, product development, user experience, culture, navigating megatrends, thought leadership and talent acquisition – you could call them ‘small things’ – according to the identity, core and reputation of the organization, then Branding will take care of itself and you don’t have to worry about it.